Changes to radiotherapy utilisation in Western NSW after the opening of a local service

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Introduction: In 2011, the first radiotherapy centre in Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) was opened in the city of Orange. Prior to this, patients travelled outside the health service, primarily to Sydney, to receive treatment. The aim of this study was to investigate if the establishment of the new rural radiotherapy service has changed the demographic profile, cancer type, treatment intent and number of patients treated.
Methods: Data were collected on WNSWLHD patients, 17 years of age and above, who received radiotherapy in either 2010 or 2012 in New South Wales (NSW) or Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The age, gender, treatment intent, cancer type and residential town were recorded.
Results: The number of patients who accessed radiation increased from 573 to 667 between 2010 and 2012. The corresponding radiotherapy utilisation (RTU) rates were 29.3% in 2010 and 33.4% in 2012, an improvement of 4.1% (P = 0.01, 95% CI 1–7%). Patients travelled 128.5 km less for treatment in 2012 than in 2010 (338.7 km vs. 210.2 km, CI 111–145.5 km, P > 0.0001). All regions had an improvement in the RTU rates apart from the Remote region which decreased by 9% (31–20% in 2012). The number of palliative treatments increased significantly only within the Orange region. The number of male patients for treatments also significantly increased as there were 81 additional treatments (292 vs. 373) as did patients with a respiratory cancer (66 vs. 97).
Conclusions: A new radiotherapy service in a sparsely populated health district significantly changed the pattern of radiotherapy use for those who lived only in the Orange region. Treatment capacity at the Orange radiotherapy centre has doubled with the opening of a second linear accelerator since this study was conducted. Thus, a follow-up study is recommended to ascertain if radiotherapy rates remain low in the regions beyond Orange.
Original languageEnglish
Article number64
Pages (from-to)251-258
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Radiation Sciences
Issue number4
Early online date03 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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